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Ron Kantowski:

The Mtn. vexes fans who’d like to watch UNLV

UNLV vs UNR Preview

Ryan Greene and Christine Killimayer preview the Battle for the Fremont Cannon and address UNLV's new approach to the media this week.

The Battle is Back

UNLV players and coaches talk about what it will take to win the Battle for the Fremont Cannon for the first time in five years.

October 1: UNLV News and Notes

Christine Killimayer and Ryan Greene recap what went wrong in UNLV's 30-27 to Wyoming.

The Rebel Room

Wyoming reflection, UNR prognostication

Ryan Greene and Christine Killimayer, back safely from Wyoming, discuss what went wrong for the Rebels in a 30-27 loss to Wyoming, then take a look at how it translates forward for Mike Sanford's 2-2 club. Plus, Dan Hinxman of the Reno Gazette-Journal chimes in to offer some insight on UNR, who UNLV faces up in Reno this weekend in a must-win for both sides.

What does it say when Bishop Gorman has a better TV deal than UNLV?

Friday night’s Gorman-Green Valley High game was televised nationally by CBS College Sports.

Today’s UNLV-UNR game in Reno will not be televised. Last week’s UNLV-Wyoming game in Laramie was not televised. And even if it were, how many would have seen it?

The Mtn., the Mountain West Conference’s almost around-the-clock TV network that launched when CBS College Sports decided it would rather show Vanderbilt vs. Kentucky reruns because they generate higher ratings, has roughly the same number of viewers as the public access channel in Aurora, Ill., that carried Wayne’s World. At least when Aerosmith wasn’t the featured guest. Then the public access channel had more.

But if you are willing to pay for The Mtn., at least you can get it in most places. Er, some places.

Some of the marquee games in the Mountain West have been farmed out to the Versus channel. But even if you want to pay extra for sports tier programming, you still can’t see Mountain West games if you are a DirecTV subscriber. That would explain the black screen when you tried to tune in BYU vs. Florida State a couple of weeks ago.

That’s not going to get the Battle for the Fremont Cannon on TV because there were no plans to show it in the first place.

And that’s what is wrong with this TV deal.

Forget about the cost to consumers, lack of exposure for recruits and any snide remarks that Kirk Herbstreit, the ESPN college football analyst, might make about its limited access or appeal: The fact the UNLV-UNR game, the one game that people who live in Las Vegas would most like to watch, isn’t being televised this year is proof this TV deal stinks like a dead skunk in the middle of the road.

In defense of the Mountain West on this issue — and I never thought I would be typing those words — there’s not much that could have been done to get the Fremont Cannon game on the tube. Because UNLV and UNR play in different conferences, they have different TV partners.

UNR is aligned with theWestern Athletic Conference, which is aligned with ESPN. There are 16 games being shown under the massive ABC/ESPN umbrella on Saturday and every one, with the possible exception of the last game of the day, Colorado State vs. Idaho, is more attractive to the average college football fan than UNLV vs. UNR.

The host conferences and their broadcast partners have the option of releasing the game to an outsider, such as a local network, but seldom do when the game would go up against one of its own regularly scheduled ones. This is especially true where ESPN is involved, because it and the Mountain West aren’t exactly on the best of terms following their contentious divorce a few years back.

A spokesman said the Mountain West might be a little more flexible about releasing a nontelevised game provided the participants display a little flexibility of their own. Maybe that would entail playing an afternoon game in the evening or moving the game to another day. This is how the WAC gets a night on ESPN all to itself, which is basically the same deal the Mountain West had — and said it hated — before it took the money and ran off to the TV hinterlands.

There is a replica of an old leather football helmet on my desk which symbolizes where I stand on a lot things, including these deals with obscure TV networks. In the three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust world, Woody Hayes decrees home games should not be televised unless they sell out in advance, and Bo Schembechler demands every road game be on TV.

This is not how it’s done in mid-major college football these days. You sell your soul to the TV devil and hope like heck the Utah schools are traveling when you play your biggest nonconference rival at home.

You take the money and run. You get your own TV network. You get a lot of Wyoming vs. Colorado State volleyball games. You get up close and personal with the San Diego State water polo coach.

And you get to imagine UNLV and UNR moving left to right across your radio dial.

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  1. I hate that I can't watch my Rebels on TV! But honestly, who doesn't enjoy women's college volleyball?
    BUT you can watch the UNLV - UNR game live on the internet!
    If you pay $4.95 to the Wolf Pack Athletics website.

  2. When I read this rubbish I envision a crusty old man fumbling around with his remote cursing modern technology (probably wearing that helmet).

    Ron, did you grow up wanting to be a schill for espn? Or did the desire develop over time?

    Our tv deal is AWESOME! There are only 3 UNLV games that are not televised.

    How many do you think we'd get if we were still with espn? Especially after 3 consecutive 2 win seasons!

    We might get BYU @ UNLV, on espnU, on a tuesday night, with a midnight EST kickoff, BUT THAT'S ABOUT IT.

    You're kidding yourself if you think espn would do the MWC (and especially UNLV) any favors.

    ALL of our games would be like this year's UNR game. They'd be controlled by espn, and espn would broadcast something else.

    If our conference bowed down to the four letter network, we'd get to imagine almost all of our games moving left to right across our radio dial. You know it to be true.

  3. This is just another unfortunate reason why it is so difficult to get kids to play football at UNLV. Not only can they NOT play for a National Championship because the Mountain West is not in the BCS, but some 4th tier cable network has to horse trade for broadcast rights so their home fans can watch the game. "No BCS, No ESPN... No Thanks."

  4. So it makes more sense for ESPN to televise a game that the home team will sell out in a small market, so a flakey-fan base, mid market city can see the game?

    Or does it make more sense to televise a game for a major media market with at least twice the alumni base and diehard fans that pack their home stadium?

    ESPN made the correct business decision airing CSU instead of UNLV. You'd think someone working in media would understand such a thing.

  5. Even mentioning the fictitious "national championship" game when discussing UNLV Football is just plain silly.

    How about we go .500 and get to a bowl game before we demand our chance at the bc$ title?

    It's not the MWC's fault that ncaa football is egregiously unfair.

    And again, the MTN is not responsible for today's game having no tv coverage. The almighty espn is responsible for there being no tv.

    If our conference was still signed with espn, you would get to enjoy this week's non-coverage almost every week.

  6. ROn

    I agree with YOU my man.
    UNLV should be ashamed that they cant get this game on one way or another. We will NEVER be a major college program without at least being on TV locally for every road game we play, whether we win or not. This is just the basics. Even the worst SEC team is on TV to its home fans week in and week out. That generates a following. Oh wai, i forgot, out following is currently dusting off their seats in the Thomas & Mack. Rebel fans, get your head out of your butts if you ever want to see us in the upper tier of our own conference. We arent light years away from Utah, BYU and TCU. Heck we dont even rival UNR. Reno goes and plays at Notre Dame on NBC. Who do we get, Sacramento city college or something to that extent. Might as well scrimmage against Bishop Gorman. Wait, if we Gorman, we'd lose, so better stick to Sacramento city college.

    All in all, we need an Athletic Director who is truly ready to get football on the map. Our current X-Ray technician Koloskie isnt the answer. We need a person who gets the resources and says you know what, we arent going to settle for playing like a JC every year. Someone who knows being on TV generates excitement and brings in recruits. If you know you will not be seen on TV, then you know you wont be seen to get to the next level. Which is why we turn out so few players.

    Thats my rant.
    GO Rebels...Beat Gorman!

  7. --- True: Yes, I am sort of crusty. I don't see how a program such as UNLV's, which struggles to draw a crowd, gives away its home games on free TV.

    --- Gus: Agree that showing games on fourth-tier networks hurts mid-major programs such as UNLV in recruiting.

    --- Green: Not faulting ESPN for the choices it makes. But I think Rebels fans would rather watch the UNR game on Thursday night or Friday night than not at all.

    --- I know: I hear you but I still think the model I mentioned above -- no home games on TV, all road games on TV -- works better for a program in UNLV's situation. But to do that, you would have to refuse the cash grab from the fourth-tier cable networks -- which, I believe, Utah did a few years back when it thought it would benefit from doing its own TV deal. I think this would have been during the Majerus years.

  8. be happy we did not get to see this game after half! when does basketball start?

  9. I can't help but think that myLV TV, or Vegas TV, couldn't pre-empt the P90X infomercial for this game. Why can't UNLV athletics or the conference come to terms with a local station to ensure that the games not shown on the Cable Access-caliber "Mountain", or deep-cable, ($12 per month on DirecTV) "CBSCS", end up on a local station? In Connecticut, Womens' basketball is carried on public TV. Perhaps the PBS model could work in this case as well. As for blacking out home games, UNLV football has never done anything on a football field to warrant making such demands. Had Woody Hayes coached a team with 2 road wins in 5 years, I'm sure he'd agree.

  10. ???

    So if the UNLV games were not broadcast on the "fourth-tier" networks, we would pack SBS week in and week out?

    SBS attendance is horrible because it's a remote, east side dustbowl that houses a pathetic football team. Oh, and the whole city hates Mike Sanford.

    Do you want to know what really kills attendance?


    Do you want to know what really hurts recruitng?

    FRIDAY NIGHT GAMES - hard to invite recruits to big games (or ask them to watch) when your college team is playing on the high school football night.

    I repeat, you are fooling yourself if you think espn would do the MWC (and especially UNLV) any favors. How many games would UNLV get aired with espn? Really, how many?

    Take a look at Idaho's tv schedule and get back to me.

  11. Our TV deal is awesome? Did someone actually say that? Give yourself an uppercut, goofball

  12. Well, I personally like the option of actually viewing our games on tv rather having espn choose to not broadcast any of them (like this weekend's game).

    You too are kidding yourself if you think bending over and grabbing our collective ankles for espn would solve all of our problems.

    People who like watching the games like our tv deal.

    Again, take a look at Idaho's or NMSU's tv schedule if you'd like an idea of how we'd be treated by espn.

    Lenny and Ron should go halfsies on some lube before bending over for espn.